The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: the bin Ladens Today

There is an old adage that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. It essentially means like father, like son. However, when discussing Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and the legacy of Osama bin Laden, perhaps saying; the fruit of the poisonous tree, is far more appropriate.

As recently as February of this year, the US State Department was informing the world that a new bin Laden was running the game. Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s favorite son, was said, by the Trump Administration, to be the new leader of Al- Qaeda to attend to his father’s unfinished business. According to the State Department, they believed that Hamza was, like his father, still living in and operating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. They even included a one million dollar bounty on his life, a fraction of what was offered for Osama. In addition, the FBI is officially “seeking information” about Hamza, at least according to their official website and Hamza’s FBI wanted poster; which states that the FBI also believes Hamza could be in Syria or Iran. 

In 2018, a video statement was released in which Hamza was re-igniting the embers which have cooled down over the past decade, by inciting the people of the Arabian Peninsula (where Yemen is located) to increase the level of violence and specifically addressed and targeted Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, just weeks preceding all this recent flash of news about the young bin Laden, President Trump usurped the constitutional paradigm via federal law and by-passed Congress to rush additional weapons into Saudi Arabia; a leader in both the conflict and human rights violations in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, in March, made a statement of disowning Hamza, stripping him of citizenship. In 2017, the US officially designated Hamza bin Laden as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)

What makes all of this far more interesting is the possibility that Hamza has been dead the entire time. On July 31, the Trump Administration announced that Hamza was killed sometime between January 2017 and August 2019, or in other words, during the tenure of President Trump. This announcement was followed up with a sort of clarification by the Trump Administration, stating that Hamza had been killed by an airstrike. However, the time and place has yet to be established. Though the killing of terrorists is something that President Trump loves to brag about, when asked about the killing of Osama’s offspring and the new Al-Qaeda leader, he declined to comment. We’ll most likely have to wait for the tweets. 

The name bin Laden echoes in the ears of virtually every human being on the face of the Earth. His image, and the images of tragedy that he is responsible for, are forever engrained into our minds. However, what isn’t spoken about as much is the extensive clout the bin Laden family had; not to mention its reach.

Long before the September 11th attacks, the name bin Laden was extremely well known to the United States and the Pentagon. The bin Laden family’s fortune, reported to be extensive at the time of and following the September 11th attacks, was made via their $5 billion a year global corporation. One of their customers was the United States of America. 

Following the 2001 attacks, virtually all Muslims in the US were under incredible scrutiny by everyone – from the government to the common man. However, there were two words which defined where the concern for security between the common man and the government bifurcated: bin Laden. Nearly as soon as the televisions around the world were exploding with the images of the World Trade Center, the bin Ladens on US soil were being protected by the FBI; and there were many of them. Some were at America’s most elite universities, such as Harvard and Columbia. Others were engaged in business, though not, ironically, in the World Trade Center. All of them were a top priority for the Bush Administration to protect until they could be flown out of the United States. 

Thus, it is very interesting that even after being dead for possibly two years, a death which the US most likely had a hand in, the Trump Administration was still holding up his ghost as a threat to the American people. In 2018, again after he reportedly may have already been dead, the bin Laden family, agreeing to an interview with a UK publication, announced that Hamza was now a married man. The bin Ladens stated that he had married the daughter of the lead hijacker of the 9/11 attacks: Mohammed Atta. The announcement of the uniting of the bin Laden and the Atta clans, through known terrorist ties, by the bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia is a very interesting event. 

There is a possible Yemen connection to Hamza’s death. In 2017, soon after Trump took the reins of the Presidency, the US increased military operations in Yemen. The first drone strikes by President Trump did reportedly result in the killing of Al-Qaeda members. Following that was the raid in Yakla, which resulted in the deaths of children, civilians, and Al-Qaeda members. The number of dead Al-Qaeda has ranged from 14 to 35. The Pentagon has reported that they killed 35. Officially, Hamza’s name was not connected to any of them, at least publically. Again, the Trump Administration has stated that they believed Hamza was in, essentially, the same region Osama was killed in and the FBI believes that he could also be in Syria or Iran.

Nevertheless, two bin Ladens are now dead and their ghosts seem to have as much importance in supporting and maintaining the War on Terror as the living men did.